Most Californians now support school choice: study

By John Crowder

Most Californians (60%), and especially parents of children in public schools (66%), are now in favor of school choice.  This is one of several findings in a report issued last week by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) based on a statewide survey conducted by the nonpartisan research organization.

The survey asked the question, “Do you favor or oppose providing parents with tax-funded vouchers to send their children to any public, private, or parochial school they choose?”  When responses were disaggregated for ethnicity, it was found that African Americans (73%) and Latinos (69%) were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be in favor.

While the finding was seen by some as shocking, according to Dr. Lamont Francies, pastor of Antioch’s Delta Bay Church of Christ, it should not have come as a surprise.

“African-Americans have long been proponents of school choice,” he said. “Slavery, which was perpetuated in part by keeping those enslaved ignorant, led directly to the creation of Freedom Schools. These Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), begun in 1837 with the formation of Cheney College in Pennsylvania, were a rebellion against Jim Crow and years of systematic oppression in education.”

“Today, school choice is the true legacy of the Civil Rights Movement because it not only allows students of color to move in, but to move up,” Francies added.

Angel Luevano, an Antioch resident, educator, and long-time Civil Rights advocate, agrees with Francies’ assessment.

“Providing a quality education for all, and closing the achievement gap, is the Civil Rights issue of our time,” he said.  “Those with means in our society have a choice as to where to educate their children.  They can afford to send their children to private schools if the public schools in their area are not performing up to par.  Those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged don’t always have such options.  This is why the charter school movement is so important.  Charter schools, being public schools that are open to all students, provide parents with options and opportunity where there might otherwise be none.”

In spite of the findings, though, considerable resistance to choose the school that will educate one’s child persists.  Only last October, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools.  In addition, lawmakers continue to introduce legislation that would make it much more difficult for charter schools to be formed.

PPIC reports such as the one cited here are focused on understanding, “long-term societal trends” and guiding decision making.” Their central audiences, according to their website, are “California’s elected officials.” As we move ever closer to the 2018 election cycle, it will be of great interest to see just how well the implications of this report are heeded by local and statewide candidates.

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2 Comments to “Most Californians now support school choice: study”

  1. richard asadoorian says:

    Good job John!! Are you aware of the Golden State Charter plan and CCCOE???

  2. Bobbi Ricca says:

    What a wonderful article. Thanks to the author.

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